UN High Commissioner, Permanent Missions and civil society discuss UPR effectiveness

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, H.E. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the German ambassador and President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Mr. Rücker, 50+ ambassadors, and civil society met on 30 November to discuss the effectiveness of the UPR process. The meeting was organised by the Permanent Mission of Germany, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UPR Info, in the framework of the German Human Rights Council Presidency and in view of the third cycle of the UPR due to start in 2017. Based on a background paper prepared by UPR Info, the discussion aimed to assess the effectiveness of the mechanism by looking both at the impact it has had so far and how to improve it in the future. In particular, ambassadors and civil society were asked to share their views on how they think the UPR could focus more on implementation in the third cycle.

The notion that effectiveness of the UPR is an essential contribution to the Council’s impact as well as to the universal promotion and protection of human rights was widely shared, with a recognition that there were important changes on the ground as a result of implementing UPR recommendations. It was also added that the UPR serves as an important catalyst for discussions at the national level. Several participants reminded of the responsibilities lying upon recommending States as to propose realistic, measurable and implementable recommendations. The SMART criteria were mentioned in this context, some participants also expressed the need to consolidate recommendations as well as to continue the dialogue on recommendations beyond the UPR Working Group, e.g. for the sake of clarification.

In terms of adjustments to be made for the third cycle, many good ideas were shared, such as:
  • tools to provide greater clarity and further guidance to all stakeholders to facilitate implementation and the reporting thereon,
  • promotion of national follow-up systems and processes or encouragement to use midterm reviews or other tracking processes, where they provide an added-value,
  • more guidance for drafting national reports,
  • more attention to interim reports,
  • documentation facilitating analysis regarding implementation, for example objective assessment of the degree of implementation of each recommendation made before the review, and
  • better use of advance questions to steer the discussions in the Working Group.
Finally, some participants mentioned the option of updating or complementing decision A/HRC/DEC/17/119 to facilitate practical questions in the context of the 3rd cycle, including on implementation as well as on technical assistance. Opinions varied on this issue showing that it requires further reflection.

Overall, the meeting provided a starting point for discussion on these broad points, which will be further developed over the coming year. UPR Info will participate in and follow closely those discussions.

Read the Chair's Summary here.